Thirsty? Check out the breweries, wineries, cideries and more across the happy valley.

The Pour Man: Edna Valley is Back
Nov14

The Pour Man: Edna Valley is Back

A couple of decades ago, back before the brand hit the skids, Edna Valley Vineyard Chardonnay was a treat, a wine I couldn’t afford, but would occasionally enjoy at a South Carolina restaurant owned by friends Louis and Marlene Osteen. The Osteens knew their wines, so when they’d offer to buy you a glass, it would always be something special. Their restaurant sold a lot of wine, and they were valued customers for the producers. So...

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Real Wine and Beer Pairings for Real Life: because Steel Rail needs Skittles
Nov14

Real Wine and Beer Pairings for Real Life: because Steel Rail needs Skittles

Talk to Pour Man Warren Johnston if you want excellent suggestions for which wine to serve at your next dinner party. Hit up Beerhunter Hunter Styles to find the best brews to drink with your buds. But if you want to know the best way to pair wine and beer with the stuff you have already in your pantry and kitchen, then you’ve got to seek out the advice of Advocate staffers who are well experienced at coming home late after work in...

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Beerhunter: Hartford Beer Fans, Take Heart
Nov07

Beerhunter: Hartford Beer Fans, Take Heart

In the two years since I took on the role of Valley beer reporter, I’ve tried to keep things local whenever possible. Aside from an international sojourn or two — like when I tried a mug of saliva-fermented ‘chicha’ corn beer in Peru last year — I’ve generally been happy to stay close to home, and the talent of Valley brewers keeps the beat from growing stale. But wandering out to Worcester last month piqued my interest in those New...

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Cocktail of the Month Club: A Piney October Surprise
Nov03

Cocktail of the Month Club: A Piney October Surprise

  “Riding the Pine” Brought to you by Lincoln Allen, bar manager at The Alvah Stone in Montague.   Ingredients: 1 ½ Ounces St. George Terroir Gin 1 ounce Zirbenz Pine Liqueur ½ ounce yellow chartreuse ¾ ounce lemon juice Lemon peel garnish To Make: • Mix in shaker with ice. Double strain into chilled coupe glass or any available vessel. Garnish with lemon. Enjoy!       — Peter Vancini...

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The Pour Man: Stupid Label, Great Wine
Oct31

The Pour Man: Stupid Label, Great Wine

Mionetto Gran Rosé is a very good sparkling wine with lots of rich fruit flavors that reflect the expertise of a master winemaker and the continued quality of one of Italy’s top wine producers. In fact, this widely available wine is an excellent bridge from the bright, refreshing wines of summer to the hearty reds of winter. The Gran Rosé is extra dry like a warm weather wine, with evident fruit flavors that remind me that there will...

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Best of 2016 Readers’ Poll Winners (Now a Board Game!)
Oct17

Best of 2016 Readers’ Poll Winners (Now a Board Game!)

Game by Kristin Palpini, Kyle Olsen, Jennifer Levesque, and Hunter Styles In celebration of the Annual Manual — a condensed version of the Advocate’s yearly Best of the Valley Readers’ Poll — we’ve created a board game featuring some of the Best Of winners. Race your friends and family around the board and try to collect items/complete tasks from each color category. The first one to collect items from all six...

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Artifact Cider Project pours local heritage by the glass
Oct10

Artifact Cider Project pours local heritage by the glass

Good Apples A scientist and a farmer walk into a bar. The scientist orders a pint of craft beer, locally made and small-batch brewed. The farmer, on the other hand, can’t drink beer — he has just been diagnosed with Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder caused by a reaction to the gluten protein found in wheat. Instead, the farmer orders a bottle of Woodchuck Hard Cider. It’s sweet. It’s fizzy. It’s fine. But the scientist and the...

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The Pour Man: California Red, Family Style
Oct03

The Pour Man: California Red, Family Style

Sometimes finding the right name for a child, a pet or even a wine can be difficult. Naming can take long, grueling hours of trotting out candidates only to have them dismissed by others for lacking originality or humor, or being downright dumb. The process can take its toll, so it’s best to have alcohol involved. For example, after days of trying to find a name for our wonderful dog, Pepita, my wife, Sandy, and I resolved the issue...

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This Weekend in Greenfield: Blues, Brews, and BBQ
Oct03

This Weekend in Greenfield: Blues, Brews, and BBQ

Here’s the Beef It’s hard to believe that Greenfield’s Riverside Blues, Brews, and BBQ Festival is already in its sixth season. We’ve barely finished the heaping pile of brisket on our plate from last year. But it shouldn’t be too hard for us to get back into the swing of things. The Franklin County Rotary Club, Lefty’s Brewing Company, and the Greenfield Recreation Department are doing everything they can to appeal to the...

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Cocktail of the Month Club: Cranberry Cinnamon Whiskey Sour at Osteria Vespa, Amherst
Sep19

Cocktail of the Month Club: Cranberry Cinnamon Whiskey Sour at Osteria Vespa, Amherst

September marks the end of the summer and evenings are starting to bring with them a subtle autumn chill. Chase it away with this month’s cocktail, a cranberry-cinnamon whiskey sour that’s sure to warm you up, brought to you by Josh Draghe, head bartender at Osteria Vespa in Amherst. — Peter Vancini, pvancini@valleyadvocate.com Cranberry-Cinnamon Whiskey Sour Courtesy of Josh Draghe, Head Bartender at Osteria Vespa. 1.5 ounces...

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Hot Damn! Sunderland’s ChiliFest is Coming
Sep12

Hot Damn! Sunderland’s ChiliFest is Coming

Hot Diggity Could it be that the lingering heat wave of the past week was due to the potency of the peppers newly ripening at Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland? Probably not, but we hear these little devils are hotter than ever — and just in time for ChiliFest. Kitchen Garden hosts its annual giant farmer party Sept. 17-18 at Mike’s Maze in the center of Sunderland, with bands, brews and spicy food all weekend long. Musical acts...

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Pour Man: Finally, A Sweet Wine That Delights
Sep12

Pour Man: Finally, A Sweet Wine That Delights

When someone suggested that I try MAN Family Wines’ Chenin Blanc, my first reaction was that I don’t like sweet wines. Although Chenin Blanc grapes are often used to make excellent sweet wines in France and elsewhere, I was assured I’d find this South African offering to be well-made, crisp, and refreshing — a dry white wine perfect for drinking in the warmer months. And I was told it’s a great buy. I respected the recommendation,...

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Staff picks: Get out there and hang with the Dude
Sep07

Staff picks: Get out there and hang with the Dude

Retrofaire 2016 Open Air Market • Saturday Fan of vintage fashion, jewelry, hard-to-find music gear, vinyl records and live jazz? The Northampton Arts Council presents the third annual RETROFAIRE, held in the space between Thornes Marketplace and the Northampton parking garage. Sidewalk chalk art, yo-yo shows, outdoor wine café and oyster bar as well! 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.  — Jennifer Levesque   BrewFest in Holyoke • Sept. 9-10 The...

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Review: Not My Mother’s Kitchen, a cookbook by Rob Chirico
Sep06

Review: Not My Mother’s Kitchen, a cookbook by Rob Chirico

In the world of food, there is nothing more contentious than “traditional” Italian cooking — everyone with an ounce of olive oil in their veins thinks their family recipes are Old World classics. This is, in part, because Italian nonni rarely write down how to prepare their dishes — as if it is assumed Italians are born with an innate ability to make a proper risotto. There is no definitive way to make a particular Italian dish — or...

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The Lush Garden: Cocktail Recipes
Aug29

The Lush Garden: Cocktail Recipes

A guide to summer cocktails from the garden It’s hard to imagine a better way to top off an afternoon in the garden than by settling into a lawn chair with a refreshing summer cocktail and admiring your work. Even better if you can actually harvest a few ingredients from that garden to add a satisfying twist to that beverage of choice. With that in mind, we asked a few area cocktail aficionados to suggest their favorite recipes. What...

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The Pour Man: Grand Cru Challenge Accepted; Lucky Us
Aug29

The Pour Man: Grand Cru Challenge Accepted; Lucky Us

In the early 1970s when I was first widening my wine experience beyond the California jugs and the Portuguese roses, I discovered a French wine in a 2-liter plastic bottle. It cost about $1.50. It wasn’t very good. It had lots of strange residue in the bottom of the bottle that made me worry the plastic might be breaking down, transforming the wine into something cancer-causing. However, being of Scots’ heritage, I persevered. I...

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Taste-Off: Crunchies for the Munchies
Aug15

Taste-Off: Crunchies for the Munchies

One classic question among lazy, hungry people goes like this: if you had to pick one food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be? It’s a fun question — and, if the Trumpocalypse triggers the end of global food supply lines, possibly a relevant one. But there is only one correct answer: salad. Why? Because a “salad” is just a mixture of more than one chopped-up thing, usually served with dressing. See? No contest. This has...

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Scene Here: On Tap Festival at Berkshire East
Jul19

Scene Here: On Tap Festival at Berkshire East

Last Call, Franklin County This past Sunday’s inaugural Franklin County On Tap festival drew over 400 intrepid fans of craft beer, cider, and mead to Berkshire East Mountain Resort in Charlemont to sample brews from a dozen local operations, including the newest: Hitchcock Brewing in Whately, pictured here, which shipped its first keg May 15. Visitors wandered among two floors of vendor tables inside the lodge, but the most fun was to...

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The Pour Man: Graduate to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
Jul19

The Pour Man: Graduate to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Nobilo, Sauvignon Blanc, 2015; Marlborough, New Zealand; $13.99 During the last couple of decades, some of the world’s top wine critics have declared that the best Sauvignon Blanc comes from New Zealand, and I would agree with them. However, I also realize, as with most things, that it’s a matter of taste. For example, if you are a fan of the syrup that canned peaches or pears swim in, then you might prefer Sauvignon Blanc from France...

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The Pour Man: Champagne Chuck; inexpensive bubbly
Jul11

The Pour Man: Champagne Chuck; inexpensive bubbly

Dibon Brut Reserve Cava, of Penedes, Spain; $12.99 I’ve been thinking about sparkling wine lately because it’s well suited for steamy summer nights; just one glass will go a long way to ease the heat. Sparkling wine also came to mind because someone gave me a bottle of Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Champagne, which my wife, Sandy, and I savored during a recent special occasion. The wine is made by one of the most respected Champagne...

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Vodkamelons: Fact or Fiction?
Jun27

Vodkamelons: Fact or Fiction?

The staff at the Valley Advocate have been to many picnics, parties, hootenannies, hoe downs, shindigs, and festivals, but only one of us has ever tasted the infamous vodkamelon. Amanda Drane, our Third Eye Roaming yogi, claims to have made a vodka infused melon with her boyfriend that turned out, well, edible. According to Drane, the vodka and the melon never set, so serving pink fruit triangles wasn’t an option. At the beach with a...

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The Beerhunter: Five O’Clock Everywhere: Western Mass Beer Week June 11-18
Jun06

The Beerhunter: Five O’Clock Everywhere: Western Mass Beer Week June 11-18

The Beerhunter’s ears are always pricked to news of local craft beer happenings, and this month, they’re positively tingling. All that excitement in the air is thanks to the first-ever Western Mass Beer Week, a series of events at breweries, bars and restaurants all around the Valley June 11-18. Eighteen breweries and more than a dozen eateries have teamed up to celebrate the beer brewed around here. All told, 52 events are scheduled...

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Oh, Honey: Can spoonfuls of the all-natural sweet stuff help ward off allergies?
May31

Oh, Honey: Can spoonfuls of the all-natural sweet stuff help ward off allergies?

Ah, spring: The time of year when nature wakes up from its deep winter slumber: birds are singing, flowers are blooming, and allergy sufferers are miserable. A runny nose, itchy eyes, and constant sneezing are facts of life for the nearly 8 percent of Americans that suffer from allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than a minor nuisance to some, seasonal...

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The List: Pioneer Valley Farmers Market Where and When 2016
May31

The List: Pioneer Valley Farmers Market Where and When 2016

It’s time, everyone! Spring is well under way and summer is just around the corner (or maybe it’s already here, judging by last week’s heat wave). Time to supercharge your shop local skills and hit the streets (and fields, and parking lots) for the Valley’s spring and summer farmers markets. Here’s where, and when, to hit them up. Rip out this page, stick it to you fridge, and make farmers market visits a regular part of your week:  ...

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The Pour Man: Mark West Pinot Noir Redemption
May04

The Pour Man: Mark West Pinot Noir Redemption

On separate occasions during the last six months, a couple of friends have recommended that I try Mark West Pinot Noir, and although I respect their taste in wines, for some reason I didn’t get around to drinking it until recently. Maybe it’s because I see Mark West on the shelves regularly almost everywhere — the gold and red label is very distinctive — and I figured any wine that ubiquitous can’t be too great, certainly not as good...

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Scene Here: Afternoon Nighthawks
Apr25

Scene Here: Afternoon Nighthawks

A crisp smack of cold beer hits my palate; a dark, hearty rye. I’m engulfed by laughter and spirited conversation, lost in the dull roar, a wave washing over me. A sudden crash, a peaceful respite as it rolls back, redoubling its efforts at sweeping me away … but not for a little while longer. It’s 6 p.m. on a Thursday at the High Horse in Amherst. A few tables have filled up in the dining section, but most of the barstools are...

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Hidden Franklin County gems
Apr12

Hidden Franklin County gems

It’s 3pm in the hilltowns. Bright sunshine warms the Ashfield Lake, and the reflected light bounces up through the windows of the three-story Lakehouse, into the quiet bar and dining room. I’ve caught the tail end of Friday lunch, and the mood at the bar is calm. A few swivel stools away, three guys sit chatting in low, relaxed voices. Two are drinking bottles of Budweiser; the third is drinking a 12-ounce pour of Ginger Libation, the...

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South River Miso Taps the Ancient Art of Fermentation
Apr12

South River Miso Taps the Ancient Art of Fermentation

Highly Cultured Christian Elwell swings open a small, heavy door, and I glance in at the crib. The temperature inside this humid little room is about 90 degrees, and the wooden trays stacked in towers along the wall give off the smell of warm, steamed brown rice. In the center of the room sits the crib: a large wooden box lined with muslin cloth and filled with steamed rice that has been inoculated with mold spores. If I were...

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Pour Man: A White Wine for Late Winter
Mar22

Pour Man: A White Wine for Late Winter

My mother raised me right, schooled in the proper Southern custom of not wearing white from after Labor Day ’til the dogwoods bloomed in March. Until a couple of years ago, I held to the standard and applied its rigorous dictum to wine: white would not cross my lips before the spring. My rationale was health. I figured that only a good hardy red wine would thicken my blood enough to make going outside in sub-zero weather bearable. Red...

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Beerhunter: Franken-Steins (Have wacky beer ingredients gone too far?)
Mar14

Beerhunter: Franken-Steins (Have wacky beer ingredients gone too far?)

The dumbest thing I ever did on a date was to invite my lucky lady off-campus for an Indian dinner of vindaloo. The dish was so spicy that I spent half an hour struggling to force small talk out through my seized-up throat (luckily, the chili peppers hit her just as hard). So I can’t say that the glass of Habanero Sculpin (7% ABV) I ordered at Ballast Point’s brewery in San Diego last spring was the biggest spice surprise of my life....

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Curry in a Hurry: With Bombay Royale, Northampton finally has an Indian lunch buffet
Feb29

Curry in a Hurry: With Bombay Royale, Northampton finally has an Indian lunch buffet

I’m usually a patient guy, but I don’t understand why it takes people so long to order from restaurant menus. I often fight the urge to lean across the table and suggest to befuddled lunch buddies that they needn’t divine the one perfect dish. For crying out loud, just pick something. But there is one cuisine that always trips up my brash tactics: Indian food. At Indian restaurants, I take forever to order. Why? Because with Indian...

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The Pour Man: Bogle Old Vine Zin’
Feb08

The Pour Man: Bogle Old Vine Zin’

During a recent visit to the North Carolina mountains, my wife and I were lucky enough to be part of a small dinner party with friends who make their living in the food and wine industry. It was one of those evenings, full of laughter and great stories, with a wonderful meal accompanied by terrific wines that were way beyond my pay grade. Such a gathering of experts in their fields was perhaps common for them, but for us it was rare...

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Snug ‘n’ Glug: Local restaurants and bars with cozy fireplaces
Feb08

Snug ‘n’ Glug: Local restaurants and bars with cozy fireplaces

There’s something unnatural about strolling downtown in the dead of winter wearing a spring jacket and feeling a warm breeze on your face. Still, snuggling by the fire is a thing enjoyed in spring. So, whatever the weather feels like when these words reach you, dear reader, there’s some cuddling to be done fireside. On this balmy winter evening, my sweetie and I decide to check out what is likely one of the oldest fireplaces in...

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Still Poised to Pour: Discount liquor licenses in Holyoke haven’t attracted buyers
Feb08

Still Poised to Pour: Discount liquor licenses in Holyoke haven’t attracted buyers

Most restaurants rely on liquor sales for survival, which is why the city of Holyoke acquired 13 additional all-alcohol licenses to sell on the cheap as part of an urban renewal plan. But that was over a year ago and no one’s biting yet. At least one of the former applicants — Vitek Kruta, co-owner of Gateway City Arts — blamed eligibility requirements placed on the licences, which have been on sale for $10,000 apiece since fall 2014,...

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Madame Barfly: Mixing Beer? Have Fear
Feb03

Madame Barfly: Mixing Beer? Have Fear

Naturally, I was really excited about the whole beer cocktail thing. Beer is good, and cocktails are good, so how can we go wrong, right? As it turns out, some beer cocktails are good and others are downright disgusting. The Beerhunter and I put our booze brains together to see if we could come up with any tasty beer cocktails. It’s more challenging than we’d anticipated — beer has a flavor profile that frequently doesn’t play well...

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